In a Trip Around the World, a Window into a Tech Couple's Growing Philanthropy

The Efrusy Family Foundation appears to be recently minted, with available tax records only going back to 2012. That year, the Efrusy family took a year off and embarked upon a trip around the world. By family, we mean the whole family. Venture capitalist Kevin Efrusy, his wife Molly, and the couple's three young kids passed through countries in Europe, Asia, South America, and Southern Africa, with friends and other family members joining in at different points. All told, the Efrusys spent time in 19 countries via nearly 50 airplane flights. The clan had a three-month stint in South Africa during the summer, where Molly, a lifelong traveler, reconnected with friends she met on a trip to the Amazon years prior. Molly, by the way, kept a blog of the entire trip. More on that in a bit. 

Major tech winner Kevin Efrusy, armed with engineering and business degrees from Stanford, focuses on software and consumer investments for Accel Partners, and was the lead investor in a number of pioneering companies including Facebook, Groupon and Couchbase. It's unclear how much he's worth, but he's been a fixture on Forbes' Midas List, earning a place for the sixth consecutive year in 2016.

In recent years, though, it's been reported that Efrusy's cut back on his duties with Accel to focus on other ventures, including philanthropy. Molly, meanwhile, a Stanford and UC Berkeley grad, worked in the healthcare for a decade and a half, but now serves president of the Efrusy Family Foundation as well as on the board of several nonprofits. 

In other words, this young couple is already turning to giving in a big way, something that's consistent with this new era of philanthropy. The Efrusys, indeed, are only in their mid-40s. The couple has a particular interest in areas like youth leadership development, education and public health. Some of this work takes place in the U.S., but their giving also takes place on a global stage.

Not too long ago, we wrote about a six-day trip that Alex Cohen and her foundation staff took through America's heartland and how it was illustrative of some of the family's philanthropic priorities. Well, let's revisit the Efrusy family's trip, particularly their stint in South Africa. The family spent time volunteering in Philippi township in Cape Town at iThemba Labantu, an organization that provides services including a soup kitchen, AIDS hospital, preschool, afterschool program, art/music classes, and vocational training. It's worth noting that Molly has an MPH from UC Berkeley, with a focus on child and maternal health. 

In one blog, Molly talks about being introduced to an education nonprofit in South Africa:

We enjoyed another adult dinner out at Ellerman House, a boutique hotel down the road from us in Cape Town. It’s owned by Paul Harris, a South African businessman... Paul joined us for dinner and gave us many insights into the complicated history of South Africa and its people, as well as telling us about Click Foundation, an education “skunkworks” that he started to try out different initiatives to improve the poor educational system in South Africa. 

Molly also mentions a music school in the region:

We went down to Hout Bay one afternoon so my parents could meet our friend Denis Goldberg and visit one of the projects he supports in town. It’s called the Kronendal Music Academy (KMA) and provides music lessons to all members of the Hout Bay community regardless of race or socioeconomic status.  One of the goals of KMA is to provide a place where the community can really be integrated and share the wonder of music.

Should it be any surprise that the Efrusys have supported both the Click Foundation and Kronendal Music Academy through their family foundation?

Related: A Billionaire Donor Hits the Road to See "Forgotten" America. Here's What She Learned

Board memberships also illustrate the story of the Efrusys' nascent philanthropy. Molly is on the U.S. advisory council of the African Leadership Foundation, which supports "transformative change in Africa by developing and connecting the continent's next generation of leaders" through partnership with the African Leadership Academy in South Africa. The family has supported the organization. Another one of Molly's board memberships is with the Firelight Foundation, which helps children and families in Africa affected by poverty and HIV/AIDS. 

The Efrusys also support education in the states, particularly in the Bay Area. Grantees have included Eastside College Preparatory School, Palo Alto Partners in Education, and The Future Project, "a national movement empowering young Americans to live with passion and purpose."

Stanford, the couple's mutual alma mater, also serves as a site of international work. A recent Efrusy Foundation grant supported the EXTREME design for extreme affordability program, a "two quarter, multidisciplinary, project-based course where students work in teams using design thinking methods to develop products and services that serve the needs of the world's poor." Other grantees have included International Justice Mission, and Nuru International. 

So far, the money moving out of the Efrusy Family Foundation isn't overwhelming. In the most recent tax year available to the public, around $400,000 total was directed towards a handful of grantees. Still the Efrusys are a wealthy couple to watch for greater giving down the line, particularly for those working globally. 

Related: Kevin Efrusy